The next generation of wireless communications will apply 5G technologies, and demand for service offerings is evolving slowly. The very first discussions about 5G started in 2012, and in 2013 NTT DoCoMo considered the possibility of deploying 5G in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Soon after, South Korea set the target for 5G pre-standard national service -- in reality, a 4.5G offering -- for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018. Since then, 5G R&D developments have occurred in China, Europe and Japan -- fueling the hype to a level never seen for 3G and 4G.
Moreover, Verizon announced last year at the CTIA show that it has a progressive 5G plan -- with first commercial deployments anticipated in 2017.
5G Service Market Development
According to the latest worldwide study by IHS Markit, 5G will come in two waves: first, sub-6GHz in 2017, followed by the real 5G at higher spectrum bands in 2020. Sub-6GHz spectrum is not new: it’s where existing wireless communications already coexist.
However, IHS believes that mobile network service providers in the 5G race are struggling to find compelling use cases that substantially benefit from the proposed International Telecommunication Union (ITU) IMT-2020 standard.
That said, IHS analysts believe that 5G means different things to different people. Every key stakeholder apparently has its own ideas and thoughts about what 5G should be, and there’s currently a split between two schools of thought.
Evolutionary 5G is an extension of current Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced networks and is backward compatible with all 3GPP technologies. Revolutionary 5G, meanwhile, is a brand-new network architecture that requires a new air interface and radio access technology (RAT), moving away from current cellular designs.
Market Outlook for 5G Technologies
5G is the next wave of wireless and mobile technologies to create a new mode of connectivity that will provide humans with an enhanced broadband experience, and also address a wide range of industrial applications.
However, it's not a continuing development of 4G and current technologies. 5G is already on a path that goes beyond cellular, shaping up as a multilink architecture that enables direct device-to-device communications.
4G is just ramping up, and LTE as we know it is just at 3G transitional. As such, 4G will continue to evolve in parallel with the ongoing development of 5G. Besides, the entire mobile communication ecosystem is trying to figure out the uses cases for 5G.
Every mobile service provider now has plans for 5G and is trying to find convincing uses cases that can benefit from the proposed ITU IMT-2020 enhancements. Although the usual suspects are already in the game, companies such as Google and would-be entrepreneurs may come to the table with disruptive ideas.